Saudi Arabia closes Qatar Airways offices, revokes licenses

Calvin Saunders
June 7, 2017

"All these stories about Qatar financing terrorism are fabricated", Ambassador Sheikh Meshal Bin Hamad Al-Thani told CNN on "Erin Burnett OutFront" on Tuesday.

In a surprise move against a key United States ally, Trump suggested Qatar - home to the largest American airbase in the Middle East - was funding extremism as he tacitly backed the diplomatic blockade of the emirate.

When he spoke there against "funding of Radical Ideology", the president wrote, "Leaders pointed to Qatar". "They said they would take a hard line on funding, extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar", he said. Apparently Mr. Trump swallowed their cynical accusations without question: "Perhaps", he tweeted, the Qatar boycott "will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism".

The rift comes less than a month after Trump visited Saudi Arabia and called for Muslim nations to unite against extremism.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, Yemen, Libya's eastern-based government and the Maldives have all cut diplomatic and other ties with Qatar.

The president's sharp critique of Qatar pulled the USA directly into a conflict that American diplomats had wanted the bickering parties to resolve among themselves.

Qatar Airways has cancelled all of its flights to those countries, which had averaged 55 a day before the diplomatic dispute, according to analysis published by CAPA Centre for Aviation.

Qatar and the other Arab states fell out over Doha's alleged support for Islamist militants and Shia Iran.

Nashabe further recalled that Saudi Arabia was accused of supporting terrorist organizations based on the leaked emails of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, arguing that Riyadh has probably "bought itself out" by making business agreements with President Trump.

Qatar has an independent streak that has often angered its neighbours.

In 2009, then-Secretary of State Clinton declared in a diplomatic cable that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide".

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For Trump, the rift has emerged as a key test of his goal to unite the region around destroying IS and other extremist groups, and containing Iranian influence.

"We have no plans to change our posture in Qatar and we would encourage all of our partners to try to work together to reduce tensions". The official wasn't authorized to comment publicly Tuesday and requested anonymity.

Corker, who has previously said he wished Trump's iPhone would be taken away from him, emphasized the importance of the major USA air base in Qatar "to the activities we have going on in the region". Less than 24 hours later, Trump had taken the Saudi side on Twitter, seriously undermining his government's position.

No one appeared more stunned than Corker, however, who had a blank look for about 10 seconds when he was told the president had posted the tweets about Qatar on Tuesday morning.

Amman will also be revoking the license of Doha-based TV channel Al Jazeera.

Qatar is the home of the US military's Central Command and its fight against the Islamic State, but Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday to questions about the continued fight that he is "positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation at all". Lindsey Graham, summing up America's strategic conundrum. "What we're seeing now is a very brutal exercise in humiliation, to break Qatar's independent spirit", Knights said, "score settling within the Gulf states".

The Pentagon cited no immediate effects from the instability on its operations.

"The US and its coalition, were grateful to the Qataris for their longstanding support of our presence there in that nation".

Qatar maintains that the crisis is being fueled by "absolute fabrications" and is a "violation of its sovereignty". Any doubt which way the Saudi-led alliance is directed should now be removed after this punitive action against Qatar. Exxon, working with government-controlled energy company Qatar Petroleum [QATPE.UL], has invested in LNG-processing plants, transport ships and related infrastructure.

Qatar denies having any links to terrorism but that hasn't stopped the travel ban with Australia's most well-loved airline.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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